By Karen Tannenbaum
Karen is a California rehabilitator who usually volunteers at the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in the US but is spending the summer as a volunteer at an Israeli wildlife rehabilitation and education center, Hai Bar Yotvata. Since IWRC currently has no Israeli members (hopefully we will soon) I thought the membership would be interested in the current state of rehabilitation in the country. Regardless of where we are, we always regard our animals and practices as normal, be that kangaroos and possums, raccoons and redtails, or pandas and cincerous vultures. By sharing each others "normal" we learn things that benefit us all.
Today, a Common buzzard was approved for release. Visitors at the educational exhibits were invited to view the release, and I found it endearing to witness the crowd’s excitement as the graceful raptor raced through the air. I tried my best to snap a picture, but my humble little camera coupled with the astounding speed of the buzzard made for a barely discernible photograph. My bad.
Before the raptor release (highlight of my day) we took a Jeep onto the reserve to visit the watering holes for a routine scrubbing. Some extra curious ostriches surrounded us and Abby and I were swiftly instructed to get back into the car. Ostrich bites are apparently not too pleasant. Thankfully, I have yet to find that out for myself.
Unfortunately, a juvenile Scimitar oryx passed away this week. The on-site vet came to the reserve to perform an autopsy, which I was able to observe. Dr. Reuven (Richard) Eden, DVM, MPVM is a UC Davis graduate who made Aliyah and has been working in town for 22 years. Dr. Eden had determined that the oryx died from an infected small intestine. After the autopsy, I accompanied Arik, Eitan, and Yaniv to Eilat to drop off a sample of the intestine to a lab for further research. Even though the circumstances were upsetting, I was ecstatic to witness the autopsy and have the chance to ask questions on animal biology and surgical process. It was a priceless opportunity.
On a brighter note, I discovered a new baby in the bat cave! Very exciting. Mama bat is gloriously protective and kept a close eye on me when I came in to clean the enclosure this morning.
I got to feed the Nightjars today, and they are officially in the running for my new favorite animal at the Hai Bar (my favorites change biweekly…I can’t help it!). For the first time, I cheerfully held a bug (the Nightjars’ snack of choice) for the opportunity to feed the birds. Worth it!
Erik took us on a little trip through the reserve to look for nesting ostriches. After about 20 minutes of driving through the terrain, we found a beautiful female lying on a nest filled with eggs. One ostrich caught notice of the truck and ran after us for at least half a mile! I felt like I was in Jurassic Park. I never thought I’d be involved in a race with an ostrich, but there’s a first time for everything, right?